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Ranking All Of The Colossi In Shadow Of The Colossus

by Javy Gwaltney on Feb 06, 2018 at 08:00 AM

Few games from the past 20 years have earned as much universal praise as Shadow Of The Colossus, earning its place in the pantheon of gaming's best. The recent remaster serves as a reminder of why that is: this is a game of beauty and isolation, and, of course, of intense, epic battles with absolutely colossal beings.

To celebrate the rerelease of one of our collective favorites, we ranked all of the colossi of the game from worst to best. Which Colossi rises to the top? Read on to find out, wanderer.


16. The 4th Colossus (Phaedra)
In a game packed to the brim with impressive, and sometimes awe-inspiring boss battles, the 4th colossus is the only one that comes close to being a stinker. It's a shame, given the impressive introduction as you ride up to see this massive stone horse come to life ... only for the fight to end in a quick round of hide and seek. Short, gimmicky, and anti-climatic, Phaedra feels like a missed opportunity more than anything else.


15. The 11th Colossus (Celosia)
Celosia ultimately amounts to little more than a novelty: he's one of the two 'small' Colossi you fight. And while his size might make him interesting at first, the fight is rather dull and tedious, with you tricking him into falling off a temple and then jumping on his back to stab him. It's also pretty annoying to find the right location on his back so he doesn't shake you while you try to stab him. Boo.


14. The 2nd Colossus (Quadratus)
There's nothing wrong with Quadratus except he's kind of boring: he's simply a slighter bigger colossus than the one you're introduced to, and doesn't really offer you much outside of being a tutorial for navigating the larger scale colossi.


13. The 15th Colossus (Argus)
Argus is easily one of the biggest colossi you fight, with you squaring off against him in an ancient, broken arena. Unfortunately by this point, the variety of colossi you've fought (in the air, in the water, beneath the sands of a desert) make this fight seem stale. That stone meat cleaver is pretty rad though.


12. The 12th Colossus (Pelgia)
Pelgia is a fun, gimmicky fight that has you navigating an island-like Colossus by hitting its teeth (ewww) into arenas, and then tricking it to try and lean in to hit you with better accuracy from its laser horns (don't ask) so you can jump onto its belly and stab it over and over again. It's a cool concept that mostly works out, though the battle goes on for a bit too long and swimming to get behind Pelgia so you can board him is pretty frustrating.


11. The 1st Colossus (Valus)
What's there to say about Valus, really? He gets props for being first. And, to be fair, it is a pretty good first impression on behalf of Shadow Of The Colossus: the view of watching this giant but strangely beautiful monster step into view, and then the music kicking in. While he lacks complexity, Valus is an overture to everything that Shadow Of The Colossus is, and it's a pretty good one too.


10. The 8th Colossus (Kuromori)
One of the first headscratchers you come across in the game, Kuromori is a giant, laser-firing lizard trapped in an arena. Beyond having a cool design, it's really fun figuring out how to get one over on him, knocking him from his high walls so you can jump down on his belly to deliver a fatal blow.


9. The 14th Colossus (Cenobia)
Cenobia is the other smaller, tiger-like colossi you fight in Shadow Of The Colossus. He's also the better of two. Instead of taking him on, one-on-one, the fight is more like a maze runner, with you running along rooftops and towers to trick him into weakening himself. Shadow Of The Colossus often champions brains over brawn, and this is one of the best examples of that.


8. The 3rd Colossus (Gaius)
The first three fights in Shadow Of The Colossus form a tutorial-like trilogy, teaching you what kind of enemies you'll be going up against in the game, how to defeat them, and what patterns to look for. As the final bit of that trilogy, Gaius is the biggest and the best of them. Absolutely massive and imposing with his sword, it's hard to shake how awe-inspiring your first sighting of him is, and how satisfying (if somewhat easy) it is to bring down this titan. In many games, Gaius would probably be the final boss. For Shadow Of The Colossus, however, it's the sign that things are about to get a whole lot harder (and trickier).


7. The 7th Colossus (Hydrus)
This eel is tricky to figure out as you can't really dive down to stab at his vital points. The rhythm required of the player, having to grab onto the Hyrdus when he surfaces, and then running across his back and quickly stabbing some of his weak points before he sinks again, makes this one of the most intense fights in the entire game. It doesn't help he has zappy defense turrets on his back either, the jerk.


6. The 6th Colossus (Barba)
He's big! You fight him indoors! He has a beard that you can jump onto! A beard of very fine quality according to reviewer and beard expert Kyle Hilliard. Who are we to disagree?


5. The 16th Colossus (Malus)
The big one. The finale. Malus punctuated the entire Shadow Of Colossus experience and he's a fine, difficult boss to take down even if he's not the best. A worthy finale.


4. The 10th Colossus (Dirge)
Dirge is an intense battle where your target spends most of the fight out of sight, this tricky sandworm slithering beneath your feet. Occasionally, he'll emerge to chase you. This fight is exhilarating because it requires you to pull off the deft maneuver of riding Agro while pointing your bow behind you to nail Dirge in his weak spot in the brief window of time you're given. Shadow Of The Colossus, like many difficult games, tries to often straddle the line between ridiculous challenge and giving you the experience of pulling off exhilarating feats with mixed results. In the case of Dirge, this fight is a resounding success.


3. The 5th Colossus (Avion)
Avion, a stone hawk soaring high over a lake, is the first Colossus that many players see and have absolutely no idea how to conquer. Luckily Avion himself gives you an answer, swooping down to charge at you, forcing you to look death in the face and take a running leap onto one of his wings before he quickly takes to the air again. It's an incredible moment where you have to calculate the jump and take it in desperate hope. And when you do nail it, and you then are suddenly flying high as well on the back of a monster that you thought moments ago was invincible, there's nothing quite like it.


2. The 9th Colossus (Basaran)
Basaran is an aggravating fight, for sure, requiring you to trick this massive crab into stepping over a geyser in a foggy field so he opens up his vulnerable spots to your arrows. And yet, it's one of the most satisfying encounters to see to the end and is, slyly, one of the game's trickiest, multi-part puzzles.


1. The 13th Colossus (Phalanx)
Phalanx isn't just the best Shadow Of The Colossus fight, but is easily one of the best boss fights in all of video games. There's no other encounter in the game that's as intense or satisfying, as you gallop beneath this massive dragon and punctuate his airbags to bring him down, wings dragging into the sand, waiting for you to board them. From that point on, you're scrambling down his back like it's a long, furry road, stabbing at every vital point you come across while orchestra music blares. It's more than a little perfect that Shadow Of The Colossus reaches its zenith when you're miles in the air, on the threshold of killing this impossible beast.

For more on Shadow Of The Colossus, be sure to read our Virtual Life and check out our crazy stunts video.